Effective multidisciplinary management of gastrointestinal bleeding (GIB) requires effective communication. We instituted a protocol to standardize communication practices with the hypothesis that outcomes would improve following protocol initiation.METHODS
We performed a retrospective cohort analysis of 442 patients who required procedural management of acute GIB at our institution during a 50-month period spanning 25 months before and 25 months after implementation of a multidisciplinary communication protocol. The protocol stipulates that when a patient with severe GIB is identified, a conference call is coordinated among the gastroenterology, interventional radiology, and acute care surgery teams. A consensus plan is generated and then reassessed following procedural interventions and changes in patients' status. Patients' characteristics, management strategies, and outcomes were compared before and after protocol initiation.RESULTS
Patient populations before and after protocol initiation were similar in age, comorbidities, outpatient use of antiplatelet/anticoagulant medications, admission vital signs, and admission laboratory values. The median interval between admission and the first procedure was significantly shorter in the protocol group (40 vs 47 hours, p = 0.046). The proportion of patients who received packed red blood cell transfusions decreased following protocol initiation (41% vs 50%, p = 0.018). Median hospital length of stay was significantly shorter in the protocol group (5.0 vs 6.0 days, p = 0.014). Readmissions with GIB were decreased after protocol implementation (8% vs. 15%, p = 0.023).CONCLUSION
Implementation of a multidisciplinary protocol for management of acute GIB was associated with earlier intervention, fewer packed red blood cell transfusions, shorter hospital length of stay, and fewer readmissions with GIB. Future research should seek to establish causal relationships between communication practices and outcomes.LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
Therapeutic study, level III.